As almost anyone who knows me will attest, I use a timer for all kinds of activities to keep me focused, to help me get started on a project, or to chip away at a potentially overwhelming task. I use timers when I teach, when I lift weights, and when I’m getting ready in the morning. I use a timer to keep on track when I’m doing something that could easily expand beyond the time I have allotted (like talking on the phone) or to help me do something in a more efficient manner (like washing dishes).
I primarily use a Polder timer that allows me to choose from a beep, a vibration, or a flashing light (or any combination of the three). Unfortunately, they no longer make the model I have, but this one by General Tools looks very similar. Most cell phones also have timer and/or stopwatch functions, although in some cases these can be cumbersome to access and alter the settings.
Online timers have proliferated in recent years and offer different kinds of features that you might also want to consider. Some of these would be useful for certain kinds of classroom exercises, since you could display the timer readout with a projector. If you want to time something while you’re already at your computer, then it might be easier to open a browser tab and use one of these online timers, rather than pull out your cell phone or kitchen timer to set one.
Features to consider as you evaluate different online timers include:
- ease of use
- preset or user-selected intervals
- display style, font, and size
- sound of the chime
- overall aesthetics
Three very different examples of online timers include:
Online Minute Timer, which offers several display choices for the size of the readout (styled like a digital clock) and the page background color. You use a dropdown box to set it for preset minute intervals from 1-60. There is also a 30-second timer option and a helpful 5-second timer to quickly test it.
Online StopWatch, which has a small display of typefont numbers and a full screen option for both a stopwatch and a countdown timer. You can set the countdown time for any amount (using hours, minutes, and seconds) from a numerical keypad display. You can pause and restart the timer while it’s running.
E.ggtimer allows you to set the countdown timer directly from the URL bar of your browser. A distinctive feature is that you can use words to describe the interval (15 minutes, 20 seconds, etc). The timer’s countdown is also displayed using words rather than just numbers.
How do you use an online timer? Let us know in the comments!
[Creative Commons licensed photo by flickr user graymalkn]